The Best Foods to Eat While Pregnant

We are infinitely unique, which is why we know there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet. With that being said, a meal plan that focuses on consuming healthy whole foods has the power to set anyone up for optimal health, especially expecting mothers and their developing babies. Prenatals can’t do all the work, so we’re lucky that there are tons of foods that make receiving these necessary nutrients super easy, here’s a simple guide to the best foods to eat while pregnant.

Leafy Greens

Raw leafy greens are nutrient powerhouses and should be consumed very early on in pregnancy to ensure proper fetal growth. Folate (vitamin B9 or folic acid), is found in many of these greens and is a key nutrient for a healthy pregnancy. This vitamin plays an important role in a babies developing nervous system and is crucial for reducing the risk of birth defects concerning the spinal cord. Some staples to incorporate into your meal plan are:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Turnips
  • Brussel Sprouts

Not only are these and many others veggies rich in folate, they are also loaded with additional vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that make leafy greens one of the the most beneficial foods to eat while pregnant.

Lean Protein

Pregnant women should aim for around 70 grams of protein per day to help aid their baby’s muscle and tissue growth. If you’re a meat eater, try to load up on things like,

  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Red meat
  • Seafood

The great thing about consuming *cooked* meat while pregnant is that it’s also an excellent source of iron, which is important for moms expanding blood volume and baby’s developing blood cells. Cooked, low mercury seafood and eggs are also super beneficial because omega-3 fats and choline aid in the functional development of an infant’s brain. If eating meat isn’t your thing, we get it. Some other high-protein foods to eat while pregnant are,

  • Seitan
  • Quinoa
  • Edamame
  • Oatmeal
  • Nuts/nut butters/seeds

Legumes

Legumes are plant-based and super high in fiber, iron, protein, calcium, and folate. This food group can be categorized as,

  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans

As we discussed, folate is VERY important to a developing baby, and only one cup of legumes can provide 65-90 percent of the daily recommended amount. These foods are also high in many required nutrients both mom and baby can benefit from, so why not get many of the necessary goods from one place if possible?

Dairy

This may seem like a weird one, but if you can handle dairy, it is one of the best foods to eat while pregnant. This is due to the fact that pregnant women need around 1,000 mg of calcium per day to keep up with the needs of a growing fetus, which dairy just so happens to be hugely abundant in. The best dietary sources of calcium come from low-fat/fat-free dairy products like,

  • Greek yogurt
  • Pasteurized milk
  • Pasteurized cheese
  • Kefir

If even the thought of consuming dairy products upsets your digestive system, you can also opt for any calcium-fortified plant-based milk, cereal, or juice, as well as an extra-hearty and regular helping of dark green leafy veggies.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats are essential to a growing baby, especially when it comes to brain and eye development during the final trimester. Though 20-35 percent of a pregnant woman’s calorie intake should come from fat, we want to make sure we focus on the healthy (unsaturated) fats:

  • Polyunsaturated
  • Monounsaturated

These sorts of fats are super important during pregnancy due to the way they provide the nutrients necessary for both mother and baby’s cell development. Polyunsaturated fats are particularly beneficial because of their high amounts of omega-3s. Some of the best healthy fat foods to eat while pregnant include,

  • Avocado
  • Dark chocolate
  • Olive oil
  • Trout
  • Flaxseed

Eating for two (or more!) can sound intimidating,  but in reality expecting mama’s only need about 100 extra calories a day during the first trimester, and an extra 300 a day during the final two trimesters. Stick to this whole foods guide for the best foods to eat while pregnant to ensure you’re getting all the proper nutrients to grow a happy, healthy baby.

Sources: Healthline.com, wellandgood.com, ChooseMyPlate.com

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